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Wharton Music Center Announces New Instrumental Faculty

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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Wharton Music Center (WMC) is pleased to announce the addition of new instrumental faculty members, Suzuki Program coordinator Michelle Hatcher, pianist Diana Lin, violinist Aurora Mendez, percussionist Edward Shea and percussionist Michael Winnicki, to its roster of professional teaching artists. The instructors joined WMC for the start of the Fall 2015 season.

Michelle Hatcher, violist and string specialist, received her Bachelor and Masters of Music at Manhattan School of Music. While freelancing and teaching in NYC, she found her true passion, sharing her love of music with children. While receiving her Suzuki certification at the School for Strings in NYC, she started the string program at Rutgers Preparatory School and helped to build the Suzuki Program at Montclair State University. Having established a successful private studio in Montclair, Ms. Hatcher founded Fiddle Fun, an intensive music camp for Suzuki trained musicians to learn how to fiddle in many styles. She is the conductor of the Preparatory String Ensemble and Junior String Ensemble at the New Jersey Youth Symphony.

Pianist Diana Lin, a graduate of New York City’s Manhattan School of Music, has performed at Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Steinway Hall, Acorn Hall Museum of Morristown and the Morristown Memorial Hospital Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute. She’s received top prizes at the Cecilian Young Musician Competition, NJMTA Young Musician Competition, Professional Music Teacher’s Guild of New Jersey. She received the NJMTA’s Spring Recital Audition High Honor Award for seven consecutive years, from 2001-2007.

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Born and raised in New York City, Aurora Mendez began her violin studies at the age of four. After relocating to South America, she became an active member of the national youth orchestra movement of Chile and began her formal musical studies at the University of Chile. While in Santiago, Ms. Mendez won numerous scholarships and principal orchestral positions including the Concertmaster position of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, principal second violin of the Chilean Municipal Theater Chamber Orchestra, and the National Talent Award. Ms. Mendez has traveled the world to perform with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Chile. She has performed in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic, Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, and most recently, China. Ms. Mendez has performed in master classes for Ida Kavafian, Martin Chalifour, Rachel Barton-Pine, Paavo Järvi, Ray Chen, Markus Stockhausen, and the Latin American Quartet.

Percussionist Edward Shea, born and raised in Philadelphia, has been playing professionally for the past 45 years. He recently completed a 2.5-year run of Newsies on Broadway and continues to sub for various shows, including Aladdin. Mr. Shea has worked with Johnny Mathis since 1969 and with Frank Sinatra Jr. for over 20 years; he continues to perform with both on tour. He has subbed for over 50 Broadway shows including Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Grease, Annie Get Your Gun and Cats. He has toured worldwide with the productions of Peter Pan, South Pacific, A Chorus Line, Chicago and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Mr. Shea has been seen and heard in numerous movies, including Ted, City Slickers and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

Percussionist Michael Winnicki is a versatile performer and educator specializing in drum set and classical percussion instruments. He has performed with the Plainfield Symphony, Princeton Brass Band, and as a dance accompanist for the Mason Gross Dance Department. He has performed with Eddie Plamieri, Randy Brecker, Frank Lancy, Michael Mossman, and Craig Handy as part of the Rutgers Jazz Ensemble. He has performed at the Blue Note and recorded live at WBGO studios.

The Wharton Music Center’s mission is to provide the highest quality performing arts education to a wide range of students in a supportive and inclusive environment, where striving for personal excellence inspires and connects those we teach to the communities we serve.

Wharton is New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts center serving over 1,400 students through a range of classes and ensembles including the 14 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony which serves 500 students in grades 3 - 12. Beginning with Early Childhood music classes for infants and toddlers, WMC offers private lessons, group classes and ensembles for all ages and all abilities. We believe in the positive and unifying influence of music and the performing arts and believe that arts education should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay. We teach all instruments and voice and have a robust musical theatre program.

The Paterson Music Project is Wharton’s El Sistema-inspired program held at the Community Charter School of Paterson and Paterson Public School 1/26. Students receive 6 hours of intensive music instruction each week with the goal of creating social change through the ambitious pursuit of musical excellence.

Wharton Music Center is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, NJ and reaches students from 13 counties. All of WMC’s extraordinary faculty members and conductors hold degrees in their teaching specialty and have been vetted and trained to enable our students to achieve their personal best. 

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